Last year alone, volunteers at the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) contributed 1,590 hours of their time to help us raise the £5.3m we need each year to keep the service flying. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to carry on.
Some of our volunteers though, know the charity a little better than others…
Just a small few of them have been in a situation that has required our life-saving critical care. In their words, here are their stories:
Will Clark, Grasmere
My name is Will Clark and I am 35 from Grasmere in the Lake District. I volunteer for GNAAS in various ways, from fundraising to giving talks on the fantastic services the charity provides and doing cheque presentations.
Back in 2012, I was involved in a cycling accident where I broke the right side of my neck. I didn’t really know much about GNAAS until I needed them when they airlifted me from Cumbria to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary. I was thrown from my bike and spent five and a half months in hospital.
I sustained a serious and permanent spinal injury. I am doing well now and getting myself out and about doing various things.
GNAAS are an amazing service and it’s hard to think where I would be without them given how far I was away from the nearest hospital, never mind a specialist unit where I needed to be for surgery. This was potentially life-saving.
In 2014 I completed the Great North Run in my manual chair pushed by a team of 15 and raised over £12,500. Since then I have talked about my experiences first hand for the charity.
Volunteering is important as it lets me give something back. I would definitely say to anyone to give volunteering a go. You gain so much from it whilst meeting a variety of people and visiting new places.
Jill Libby, Northallerton
I’m Jill Libby and I am a volunteer. I mainly do two things which are cash counting and tin servicing, as well as the odd bit of grounds maintenance plus the occasion event.
It was 2012 and while I was out cycling, I was hit by a car at 60mph. I was vaguely aware of roadside procedures going on around me then I heard the helicopter. I suffered multiple serious injuries.
I have recovered pretty well but it has been life-changing and I’ll never get back to where I was. It has taken five years to get back to an ok place in my life and I have needed to reinvent myself and relearn what I can and can’t do.
Volunteering has helped me with a lot of skills especially with regards to confidence and concentration. It’s also helped me get my self-esteem back and even having to drive to come in to volunteer has helped me with my fears.
GNAAS are awesome and without them I wouldn’t be here today. It’s a brilliant charity with a strong focus on the mission at hand.
A year after the accident I decided to cycle the same route on the anniversary of my accident, and someone suggested to do it sponsored. I had so much support and raised over £5000. From then on, I started doing office bits then carried on volunteering.
Anyone can sign up to volunteer for GNAAS. You won’t be pushed into anything and you will always be appreciated.
Ben Conroy, Hartlepool
I had just finished school before the six weeks holidays back in 2007. I was walking home and one of the school buses clipped an illegally parked car and swerved onto the other side of the road into oncoming traffic. He then swerved again, and the driver wasn’t wearing a seat belt, so he got thrown out of his seat and lost control, ploughing into me.
GNAAS came and flew me to James Cook University Hospital where there was about 40 doctors waiting as they expected many more casualties as a result of the accident. I was in intensive care for a week and then moved onto the ward for another three weeks.
I had injuries all over my body and my recovery has been long and painful, but I have been pushing to get back to normal. I try to keep positive, but I do struggle from day to day – who wouldn’t?
GNAAS are amazing and they are like a big family. I volunteered to give something back and I have been doing it ever since. I know how much it costs to get the helicopter off the ground and that’s not even saving someone. Putting anytime I can in is precious and I like to think I am making a difference.
In terms of the work I do for GNAAS, I do quite a bit of admin work and also do some money counting. Out of my volunteer work I am a musician – playing the guitar and singing.
To anyone who is thinking about volunteering, just do it because you won’t regret it at all.